Otter, Alone

in it TO WIN IT

Rain was falling on the window. Rivulets fled down the red tile of the roof and gurgled, as water charged down the drain pipe that led to the gutter.

Jan buttered a bagel inside. Steam from the tea pot misted on the glass.

In her heart, it was summertime and she was swimming, on her back, down the river – the water, warm, leaves and twigs going by. Sunlight struck her eyelids.

The rain was filling up the cave behind the house, swirling in puddles, saturating the sand. Buried in the ground was a simple gold chain, with a silver heart.

The tree branches outside the window groaned under the weight of the wind. The shutters rocked. Jan got up and used a mitt to pick up the kettle and pour water over ginseng tea leaves.

The cave was flooding, the water picking up dirt and stones – and the forgotten necklace.

Jan drank the tea in front of the fire. She waited to hear car wheels squeal over gravel, but only endless white noise met her ears.

In the summer, they walked in the woods. They visited the cave, with its tiny shell fossils pressed into the shale and ancient air pockets in the soft rock.

The forest floor twigs and soil stuck to the bottom of their feet. They walked through the forest, to their “secret” cave. They had buried the necklace to commemorate their love.

“There’s a pool of electrons all around us,” Alli had said, “The currents of the collective unconscious will bring me back to you.”

Alli practiced meditation and psychokinesis. A Zener card “expert” had come down from New York, with an offer to be in a psychic experiment. A native New Yorker herself, Alli was haunted by her ancestors’ memories, the spirit world and time.

But, Jan suspected there was something else: this new esper, Dallas. Bending spoons and speaking of an illustrious alien inheritance, Dallas had lured Alli away, in the waning days of August. Suddenly, Alli was speaking about quantum mechanics, auras and human magnetic fields, instead of just “ravens, spirit world birds.”

“You used to have your shaman feathers,” said Jan, “Now, you’re trying to build this mythic couple!”

Alli, of course, had denied this. But, by the time of fall’s first frost, Alli had packed up and moved back up north with Dallas, to New York.

“Planetary ocean of electrons, my foot.” Tired of the fire, Jan stood with her tea, watching rain paint the bay windows.

Alli had said Jan was a “3-Sigma event,” with “real-life ESP.” It was Alli who had called them “Otter and Bear.”

Today, it was just Jan – Otter – alone. If the floorboards creaked at night, Jan imagined it was Alli’s ghost, her living spirit, an astral projection, walking around, still looking for the remote. But no, only ravens disturbed her porch now.

During some night of incredible humidity, Alli had whispered to her, “Love is a haunting,” and Jan had no idea, at the time, what Alli had been meaning to say.

peaceful home


Sam Smith, “Stay with Me”

Taylor Swift, feat. Ed Sheeran, “Everything has Changed”

Erasure, “Always”

Prior Alli story-arc: “The Vampire,” and “Island Get-Away.”

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